Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs KOA

August 21 - 23
1711 miles and 20 days into the trip.

Back to the Fall 2005 Travel Directory

Hot Springs National Park is much different than any other National Park. It is named for the natural hot springs which flow (850,000 gallons a day at 143 degrees F) out of the base of Hot Springs Mountain. The water lacks the sulfur smell of many other hot springs around the world. There are also several cold water springs in the area.

The springs were first used by the Indians. They called this area "peaceful valley." Even though they were at war with other tribes, they would be at peace while in the valley. The springs were used to heal their battle wounds.

The Hot Springs were part of the 1803 Louisiana Territory purchase. By 1832 Congress felt that the Hot Springs should be reserved for the nation and declared it National Hot Springs Reservation. In 1921 it was transferred to the Park Service and it became our 21st. National Park.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's the Hot Springs had many large and fancy health spa's and which were loaded with patrons seeking cures to their ills. Besides soaking in the hot springs the spas also had other remedies, such as mercury rubs. But as medicine advanced and the reality of how curing the springs were the number of patrons declined. Now only one spa is in use. The others have been taken over by the park service. One, The Fordyce, has been renovated and is used as the National Park Visitors Center and Museum. You can walk around the four floors and see how the spas were used.

The museum tour was very interesting. First a 20 minute movie then a self guided walk through each room of the four floors. The men and women had separate sides of the each floor. The men's side was much better equipped.
The tour starts by going through the normal routine that a patron would go through. To the changing room to get into your towel, then to the bath to soak in hot water, then to the hot shower, then to the steam booth, then hot towels, then a cooling off and back into your street clothes. That was the simple routine. There were other special items, sundeck or courtyard, Gym, various massages, beauty parlor, and lounges.

It is hard to keep your hand in the water flowing out of the mountain.
This is the only uncapped spring in Hot Springs.
All of the other springs have their water piped into large tanks
for use by the local hotels and other businesses.

The Fordyce.
The National Park Visitors Center and Museum.

The tubs are deep and long.

The men's bath.
Notice the stained glass ceiling and fountain in the center of the room.
The women had a very small and drab bath.

The hot shower.
Each of the valves on the left controlled temperature and flow of various showerheads.
The thin vertical pipes shot needle sprays which were used to open your pores.
Several of the other showerheads were missing from this shower.

The women's steam booths.
They also had steam rooms like the men had. Now a days we call it a sauna.

This was the cooling room.
It is where you rested until your body returned to normal temperature.
They did not use any pads, just the towel you had wrapped around you.
The metal bed was surprisingly comfortable.

The Music Room.
Besides the lobby, this was the only room in the spa
which both men and women were allowed in together.

Back to the Fall 2005 Travel Directory